(A/N: An evil little fic that didn't fit into my plans for 'If Looks Could Kill,' so I'm releasing it into the wild. Enjoy!)
Blood and Water
"Wow!" Quinn Morgendorffer gushed. "They look so real!"
She twirled gracefully in the middle of the opulent corridor, the better to see the silent figures posing all around her.
Romonika DeGregory smiled indulgently. Her long black fingernails clicked against each other as she watched her latest protégé explore the innermost rooms of her mansion.
"They are better than real, my dear," she explained in her thick Romanian accent. "They are models of models. Wax, to be exact. My most beautiful students, all of them pearls in a bed of oysters. I shall remember them always."
"They are beautiful," Quinn agreed, examining a lithe, fair-skinned one nearby in an elegant green gown. It looked a little bit like her! Her hair and nose were better, though. "Where are they now?"
Romonika chuckled and waved a hand airily. "Why, they are everywhere now! Perfect models, beautiful forever. When a girl has all the talents imaginable—just as you do—only a short period of instruction is needed, and then they move on. But always they are a part of me. Now, shall we begin our first lesson?"
Quinn's shoulders fell, but she nodded grudgingly. "Can I look at them some more next time?"
"The way you are progressing, darling, you shall soon be one of them!" the agent smiled and beckoned her to the next room.
Very soon now, she thought as the fashion princess tripped along behind her.
The next room was smaller and more dimly lit, well furnished with a gleaming mahogany office desk and comfortable antique chairs. The dark red carpet ended at a sleek stage, complete with a small runway and a minibar.
There were more shrill exclamations from the girl. Romonika barely heard them as she strolled over to the bar. She had done this so many times before. Every step, every movement had been perfected over the years, but she never tired of it. It was her family's legacy, and one she was proud to continue tonight.
She picked up a silver tray with a bottle and two glasses. "Before we begin our first lesson, dear Quinn…by all means, help yourself."
The little beauty hesitated. "Umm…is that wine?"
"Just a taste. Don't tell me a girl of your social graces confines herself to carrot juice and soda?" Romonika's painted-on eyebrows rose alarmingly high.
Quinn's eyes darted back and forth. "Um…of course not! What I mean is, I don't think I've tried that kind of wine before. Um, vintage. Ha ha!" She swayed back and forth nervously. "But just one glass, because I don't like to drink and model."
"Course," her mentor replied in a droll voice. "Well then, treasure, you must acquaint yourself with this kind immediately. It is called Sangre de la Virgine. Exercise and diet are quite important, but for the discerning career woman? Nothing is more health-giving than a glass of red wine to end a long day."
She poured two glasses and handed the nearest to Quinn.
"Thanks!" Quinn took a careful sniff as she wandered across the room. "Your house is so amazing, Ms. DeGregory."
"Ooooo, what's this?" the girl nudged open a sliding panel in the wall that was already slightly ajar.
"Get away from there!" Romonika said sharply, waving her off and rushing to close the panel. That door must never open until the time was right! How could she have been so careless?
She turned to see Quinn standing bashfully by the desk. "Um…I'm sorry, Romonika."
"No, no. I apologize for raising my voice, dear. But that is a special place, with a surprise just for you. You may see it very soon if you impress me. But for now...drink your wine and we shall get started with your lesson."
Quinn nodded slowly and stared into her glass. "It doesn't taste bad or anything, does it?"
"Like anything worth enjoying, my pearl, it is-how do you say? An acquired taste. But perfectly safe! I shall drink first," Romonika took a sip and smiled. "You see?"
Quinn softened and raised the glass to her lips.
Romonika closed her eyes and reflected. The moment was nearly upon her. It had been so very long since her last rejuvenation. But the wait was always worth it when she discovered exactly the right girl, one overflowing with life and beauty.
To think she had once feared aging, and death! To think that she threw a fit of terror at her first sight of wrinkles in the mirror! Time waited for no one, after all—not even a model as beautiful as she once was. But with her constant and often painful spa treatments, she had an even more rewarding method of self-preservation. She regretted having to leave Europe, but the U.S. was where the modeling business was at these days—with so many more girls to offer her.
She looked up to see that young Quinn had drained her glass as well. Most impressive for an obvious first-timer.
"That was good!" the girl said.
"I am glad that you enjoyed it. It is a most relaxing drink. Do not fear if you begin to feel a bit…drowsy." Romonika smiled wickedly behind her glass.
"I'm not tired," Quinn shrugged, blinking her eyes.
A moment later, she lost her balance and fell to the carpet.
"Course," Romonika chuckled. She strolled over to the panel and opened it all the way to reveal an elegant porcelain bath. Its once pristine white sides were stained with red. It whispered memories, welcoming her…
Oh, yes. Now Quinn would have her surprise.
"What's…going on? I'm…" Quinn mumbled sleepily.
"Just a small addition of mine. It's for your own good, dear. You'll be much more comfortable this way. But then, so will I!" Romonika threw back her head and laughed her screechy laugh. She bent down and began to drag Quinn across the carpeting. "Oh, what a bother to pull you all this way. I wanted you much closer to the door—but then, you found out about that, didn't you? I could not have you near it then, my blossom. Not until the moment was right."
"L..lemme…wanna go…home now."
They reached the stage. The smooth wooden floor made moving her body much easier. Once they were inside the house, the rest was always a breeze—as natural as breathing, eating…or bathing, she thought with a chuckle.
Still, Romonika was impatient. "I wish Claude were here to help me. But he did not have the stomach for it, so I had to dispose of him as well. Now now, almost there…"
They were inside the room now. Romonika slid the door closed and stifled a yawn. "How ironic. Now you make me tired out."
"Mm…stop…" Quinn was barely conscious now. Perfect. Romonika began running hot water into the bath. She felt around in the pocket of her slacks for the penknife.
"Yes, yes, dear. Do not spoil our moment now. I've wanted to see your blood for so long, my darling. See it…feel it. I must be preserved, you see. My beauty must last always, as an example to my beloved students. You should be quite proud. Only my loveliest models can receive this honor. And I think I shall enjoy you the…" Romonika frowned as she yawned more deeply. Her tongue felt thick. Her eyes began to flutter. "…The most of all. You were always my most eager…eager student. To think that you blossomed in a…garden of…weeds, such as…"
She stumbled, teetered and then fell to her knees. Something was very wrong.
Quinn's sickly sweet giggle danced across the steamy room as she rose easily to her feet.
She switched them, her teacher thought dizzily. She switched the glasses…she opened the panel when my back was turned...
"A model? Hee hee…maybe I should be an actress instead." Quinn gloated.
"Like, DUH, I saw you. Remember when you picked that other girl over me, the one from across town?" Quinn babbled as casually as if she were gossiping with her friends. "Well I was mad, so I followed her when she came over to visit. So yeah, I saw everything, and EEEE-yewwww! Bathing in buh-LOOD?! That is, like, so dirty and not cute at all!"
She grabbed Romonika by the hair, bending her limp body over the bath. "Besides," she hissed, "Judging by those creepy wax thingies, you're killing way too many people around here. And, well, you know…that's MY job."
She shoved Romonika's head under the water.
The older woman struggled as water flowed into her lungs. Her bony hands clawed uselessly at the side of the tub as Quinn leaned against her—then suddenly pulled her up again.
"I learned all their names, you know," Quinn said, her eyes cold and black as marbles. "That was for Tori."
She pushed her head in again and held it a little bit longer. Pulled her up again. "And that was for Priscilla."
Romonika choked desperately. She had to breathe. Had to take in air. But Quinn's fingers were in her hair again and no no please NO-
Splash. Quinn trembled with excitement as she forced her down longer. She did it over and over, drowning her former idol slowly. She'd never done it like this before, and oh God the power. The sick electric crackle up and down her spine. So good…
"Allison…Paris…Monique…" Quinn recited them one by one, cruelly forcing Romonika's head under the water again and again, watching curiously as her struggles weakened each time. With every name she felt more alive, more full of pleasure.
She pulled her victim up for the last time. "Ohhhh, NO. I'm all out of names now!"
The woman choked and retched water into the tub.
Quinn smiled. "No, wait. I think there's one more that's all your fault," she leaned close and whispered in her ear. "…Romonika."
A horrible gurgling cry bubbled up from Romonika's throat. It was the last sound she ever made as Quinn thrust her headfirst into the bath and held her, humming and moaning with delight. The water bubbled and churned until she finally went still.
Quinn rose and dried her hands on the dead woman's dress. She pulled a slip of paper from her jeans. "NOW can I read you my poem? ...Great!" She unfolded the paper and cleared her throat.
A model's what I'd like to be.
Looking good comes naturally.
But you're so gross it bothered me.
Die die die die die. Tee hee!